Bears no match for Cowboys as game gets out of hand
There was nothing unique about the Bears' latest loss.
The defense couldn't stop the run or the pass. The offense, saddled with poor field position for much of the game, couldn't move the ball with any consistency until it was too late. Special teams didn't do anything to help, and even contributed to the blowout loss with a partially blocked punt that led to the Cowboys' first touchdown.
It all added up to a 41-28 Cowboys victory that lifted the visitors to 9-4 and dropped the losers to 5-8. Even before this latest defeat, the Bears previous losses had been by 17, 41, 28, 13, 7 and 21 points, leading to questions about whether Marc Trestman's team is even competitive.
"This team competes hard every day to get better, and they compete hard in the football game," Trestman said. "It would be totally disrespecting our football team to think that they are not going out and competing as hard as they can."
It was difficult to see any evidence of that as the Bears were down 35-7 before scoring 3 fourth-quarter cosmetic touchdowns. That came after thousands of the 55,265 fans at Soldier Field for the opening kickoff had already left. That didn't include 6,293 with tickets who chose not to attend at all.
A week earlier 21 unanswered points in the second quarter doomed the Bears in a 34-17 loss to the Lions. Thursday night they surrendered 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.
As it has been in most of the Cowboys' victories, it was too much DeMarco Murray, and that was the case again. Murray entered the game with 381 more rushing yards than anyone else in the NFL. Against the Bears, he breezed past 100 yards for the 11th time in 13 games -- before the third quarter was over.
Murray finished with 179 yards on 32 carries and added 9 receptions for 49 yards. As a team, the Cowboys rushed for 194 yards, the most the Bears have allowed all season. They came in ranked 10th in the league in run defense, but they were overmatched all night on both sides of the ball in the run game.
The Bears managed just 35 yards on 15 rushing attempts a week after rushing for 13 yards on 8 carries.
But the inability to even contain Murray was what got the Bears buried by the fourth quarter.
"We have to win football games, that's the bottom line," defensive end Jared Allen said. "Defensively, we can't play like that. We can't give up 200 yards rushing.
"We clawed back in at the end to make it close, but ... their running game wasn't anything complicated that we didn't know wasn't going to come at us. They just won the running battle today, and we didn't get off the field on third downs. If we do that, hopefully it's a different game."
The Cowboys converted exactly half of their third-down opportunities (7 of 14), while the Bears managed just 20 percent (2 of 10).
Playing off Murray's runs, quarterback Tony Romo sliced up the Bears' secondary with surgeon-like precision. He threw just 4 incompletions on 21 attempts in the first three quarters and finished 21 of 26 for 205 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 138.0 passer rating.
The Cowboys turned it into a rout before the third quarter was halfway over. They had an apparent 48-yard punt-return touchdown by Dwayne Harris negated by an illegal-block-in-the-back penalty, but that only delayed the inevitable.
On their first play from scrimmage after the flag, Romo hit Dez Bryant for 43 yards in between Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Chris Conte. Three plays later, Romo found tight end Gavin Escobar all alone in the back of the endzone for his third TD pass, a 6-yarder that swelled the Cowboys' lead to 28-7.
On the Cowboys' next possession, Murray's 27-yard run set up Joseph Randle's 6-yard TD run that made it 35-7 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Taking advantage of a Matt Forte fumble on the Bears' opening possession of the second half, the Cowboys had to travel only 31 yards to increase their lead to 21-7 early in the third quarter.
"We had a competitive game going at 14-7 (at halftime)," Trestman said, "We couldn't hold up stopping the run. They were able to get runs in chunks. We're not doing the things in all three phases that we need to do to win on a consistent basis in this league."
The Cowboys went up 14-7 with just eight seconds left in the first half, in a plodding and time-consuming drive, in which Murray caught 5 passes for 20 yards and ran twice for 9 yards. But it was the 21-point deluge in the third quarter that drowned the Bears and brought on questions about Trestman's job security, which he dismissed.
"The only thing I'm concerned about is the health of my football team," Trestman said. "I'm concerned with bringing them in (Monday) and coaching them up to do a better job than what they've done. That is my focus, and will be my only focus."